BGG.CON 2011 Report

Last week I returned from another stellar BGG.CON gaming convention. The routine has become very attractive and fulfilling for me: play games, drink beer and eat some food at the hotel bar, go for a run, repeat. It is just the break I need after a hectic football season. My gaming trickles to nearly zero from August to October - check out this graph of games played by month from 2008-2011.

Games played by month, 2008-2011

November certainly peaks every year, largely because of BGG.CON but also because I get back to hosting gaming, gaming with my local group, and gaming over the Thanksgiving holiday. December looks a bit lower than expected, but I suspect I'll get in 25-30 new game plays this coming month.

Great job Derk, Aldie, and the rest of the BGG.CON for putting on another great show. We are moving to a new venue next year so it will mix things up a bit, but I'm sure they will maintain high standards for the event.

Let's break down what I played this year.

Great Stuff

  • 18AL -- 18xx is a tradition now at BGG.CON and we (Mark, Jim, and I) played the pimped-out version of 18AL. I had a hard time of it, nearly going bankrupt but rising from the ashes to throw off a lot of cash, helping push Hamzy over the edge and get a narrow victory over Jim. 18AL is losing a bit of its luster for me but the company was great.
  • Agricola -- Agricola remains my #1 favorite best-ever game and it was great to get in a live version of this with Yehuda and Nadine (from Israel) (and Jim of course).
  • Gettysburg -- Unfortunately Jim and I didn't get to finish our game -- my second false start of this wonderful game without a finish. Improves on the mechanics introduced in Waterloo but I like the setting and streamlined nature of Gettysburg.
  • A Game of Thrones: the Card Game -- Up there with Magic: the Gathering as one of my two all-time favorite collectible / trading card games. Wiped out Jim's Targaryen deck with my awesome Martell deck. Oh, I built Jim's deck as well but just set him up.
  • D&D: The Legend of Drizzt Board Game -- I love the D&D boardgame series and it was even more fun with characters I enjoyed in Salvatore's books.
  • Innovation -- one of my favorites of the show, and I've played it twice since and still love it.

OK Stuff

  • Alien Frontiers -- This was the first game I played on Thursday and while I enjoyed it I don't think this brings enough new to the table to encourage repeat playing.
  • Poseidon's Kingdom -- Lovely to look at and surprisingly quick to play once we got going, but not much game there and a bit clunky rules-wise. Had fun and enjoyed teaching it to another group though, but not worth spending $100 to own.
  • Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer -- I only know this game well because of the iPad version. Decent deck-building fun but best suited for electronic play vs AI (fast!).
  • Keltis -- My second or third play of this game and it remains enjoyable. It feels so tense when playing - I suspect everyone feels like they aren't making progress because the cards just won't go your way. Plays in only about 40 minutes and I'd gladly play again.
  • Rune Wars -- I'm on the fence about this one and hope to play again in December. I really enjoyed the play but it left me feeling like it is very much like other multi-player build-an-army-and-conquer games. Then again, I there is probably more subtlety to the game that I'm missing (recruiting neutrals as allies seems like a good plan, maybe I should have focused on questing more, etc.) so I will reserve judgment until another play.
  • PÜNCT -- Love the GIPF series of games and need to remember to pull out my copies at home more often. Julie enjoys two-player abstracts.

I'll Pass

  • Nefarious -- My rating here is partly informed by the hefty $60 price tag for a light-ish card game, and partly because the game left me wanting more depth.
  • Troyes -- Glad I got to play this hit from last year. There's so much to like about this game, but I really hated people stealing my dice. Money seemed to flow too freely that I wonder if we played something wrong. Get your hands off my dice!

BGG.CON 2011 Days 1 and 2

Here's a quick rundown of what I've played so far:

Thursday

  • Alien Frontiers -- One of my hope-to-play games from 2010. Reminds me of Mission: Red Planet but with a better mechanic (dice!) for placement and actions.
  • Innovation -- Surprise hit so far, and at only $20 for the base game (and $20 for expansion) was an easy buy from the guys at Funagain. Civilization-building card game with very creative mechanics and relatively short playing time.
  • Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer -- I've played about 100 times on the iPad and once before in real life. Taught Jim how to play; solid deckbuilding.

Friday

  • Poseidon's Kingdom -- The latest game from Fragor Games. Took a while for us to get going without a real teacher but very fluid once we got down the core mechanics. The "wave breaking" mechanism with dice raining down on the board is very slick.
  • Troyes -- Another dice-based game but hardly overly random or chaotic. This is a deep game that the four players fumbled through and generally enjoyed.
  • Runewars -- Big hit; we played with 3 players in a learning game and finished in about 2-3 hours. Multi-player American style war and building game with a nice fantasy adventure twist set in the Runebound (and Descent) universe. Would be a big hit with Jacob and Matthew.
  • PÜNCT -- Jim and I had 45 minutes before dinner and listening to the Sherwood football playoff game stream so played this game in the GIPF series. Forgot how much I love these games.
  • Nefarious -- Very light card game that Jim and I played with old friend Tim. Fun enough for what it is, but I don't think it will be worth the $60 retail. Feels like a $25 light card game to me.

Tomorrow we expect to play A Few Acres of Snow, 18AL, and Agricola.

BGG.CON 2011 Preparation

Tomorrow I fly to Dallas for my 6th BGG.CON gaming convention, joining the convention a bit later than most but earlier than I usually do. As usual (in a good way) I'll be hanging most of the time with friend Jim Ginn. Also looking forward to seeing Yehuda who I think I last saw when I was in Israel in 2006, though we did play Agricola over Skype at BGG.CON in 2008.

Jim and I have a few traditions that I'm sure we'll uphold this year:

I've been so out of the gaming loop for the past 5 months that just about anything released in 2011 will be new to me, as well as many games from 2010. Jim and I did target some games to hopefully try this weekend:

I suspect we'll try maybe half of these, but you've got to start with a list, right?

For reference, here are my reports from past years: